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Interview: 'Hands off Android', says Google

Open Handset Alliance lays down the law

This week Google unleashed an initial set of details about its plans to alter how mobile applications are created and distributed. Immediately after the launch of Google Android industry watchers compiled a long list of follow-up questions about the Android platform and the Open Handset Alliance. We spoke to Google to find out the answers.

See also: Analysis: Google's Android mobile strategy explained

PC Advisor had a chance to talk to Rich Miner, a key member of Android's technical staff and a co-founder of the namesake company Google acquired in 2005, and ask him some of those questions.

During the brief phone chat, he said all members of the alliance have to agree to protect Android from technical fragmentation and explained why Google decided to launch its own mobile Linux effort when several others already exist.

Here is an edited transcript of the interview:

PCA: Other mobile Linux initiatives exist on the market that are trying to accomplish a similar thing as Android. Won't Android compete with them and complicate those efforts?

Miner: When we looked at the other [mobile] Linux activities out there, oftentimes they're initiatives that are based on Linux but their resulting platforms aren't completely open. Or they're completely open and they're Linux, but they're missing most of the things that [Android has].

They probably don't have video codecs, Midi sequencer, speech recognition. So they're not a complete phone stack. The goal with Android was to build into it everything you needed to release a phone: an entire stack to build a competitive smartphone or high-end feature phone.

PCA: The description you have given of Android's browser sounds exciting. Will it in fact replicate the PC browser experience on mobile devices?

Miner: Yes. It's based on the [open source] Webkit browser technology. That's the same browser that Apple ships with the iPhone and that's used in the Nokia Series 60 phones. So it's a full desktop browser, based on the same Webkit core Apple uses for their Safari browser, but highly optimised for our mobile environment.

It'll be a great mobile web experience.

NEXT PAGE: but what about Apple?

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